Monday, December 8, 2014

Peace by any Other Name

During this Christmas season, we send cards with the slogan Peace on Earth, or we remind ourselves of the ‘wish for world peace,’ ‘let there be peace on earth,’ ‘give peace a chance,’ ‘peace brings the world together,’ ‘peace is possible,’ ‘peace is our gift to each other,’ ‘peace is the way for a better day,’ ‘peaceful resolution is the best solution,’ ‘where there is love there is peace,’ ‘war is expensive, peace is priceless,’ ‘let’s have peace,’ etc.

If that’s the wish of all people why has peace still evaded us?
I once read a book called the “Anatomy of Peace” by the Arbinger Institute where the authors ask some very profound questions: What if conflicts at home, conflicts at work, and conflicts in the world stem from the same root cause?  What is their conclusion? The choice between peace and war lies within us.  As one of the characters says, "A solution to the inner war solves the outer war as well." This book offers more than hope -- it shows how we can prevent the conflicts that cause so much pain in our lives and in the world.

“If the way of peace is to succeed, it must offer a substitute for everything war now offers.”
~ Dr. Deepak Chopra, author of the Peace is the Way: “Bringing War and Violence to an End.”

What is the meaning of Peace?
Peace is defined by a freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility, calm and serenity; privacy and solitude; also ease and contentment.
Peace can also be law and order, harmony and non-violence; absence of violence and war.

“There is no other way to peace.  Peace is the way.”
~Mahatma Ghandi

Why is it so hard to create Peace? 
For once, it is an abstract term, an invisible value, a dream, a vision, something nobody has ever seen, heard, touched, smelled or tasted.  But so are terminologies such as love, beauty, truth, and goodness.  There are values we all strive for but we all have different ideas of what they mean. 

"The democratic world places value upon the individual person because each one is a child of God. The greatest care must be taken to assure each individual's liberty and freedom of choice, for without liberty, a person's actions have no value." 
~ Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon - Challenges and Possibilities for World Peace, June 1, 1987

How can we overcome that internal struggle?
It is no wonder that we are fighting wars between countries when the actual conflict starts in our own mind. Have you ever become aware of the internal battle in your own mind?  Or the struggle your head puts up when your heart says something else?  Or witnessed the arguments and repetitive slogan your negative mind plays over and over again?  That conflict happens when one part of you disagrees with what the other part is doing. Or the clash of your mind and body when the alarm goes off 6:00 AM and you would rather stay in bed than get up and go to work? 

As we discovered before, the values we are striving for are all invisible.  The way we can manifest anything into the physical realm is through experience and practice.  The same way an athletes have to train day in and day out or a musician has to rehearse the scales before she can play a beautiful song, the daily repetition brings him the perfect result.  And even with all the drills and repeats the probability of success is only 3 out of 10 or some similar rate; practice and training make perfect score.

How can we ever achieve that mind-body unity?
Since the dawn of times the individual and mankind as a whole have been striving to create peace while conquering each other, while battling and fighting war at the same time.

The moment we forget that man is not only a physical being but a creature with spirit and soul, we are always faced with challenges.  And they are not only encounters of relationships.  Darrel Scott, the father of Rachel Scott who died in the Columbine High School tragedy, says it best:

"Men and women are three-part beings. We all consist of body, mind, and spirit. When we refuse to acknowledge a third part of our make-up, we create a void that allows evil, prejudice, and hatred to rush in and wreak havoc. Spiritual presences were present within our educational systems for most of our nation's history. Many of our major colleges began as theological seminaries. This is a historical fact.
What has happened to us as a nation? We have refused to honor God, and in so doing, we open the doors to hatred and violence. And when something as terrible as Columbine's tragedy occurs -- politicians immediately look for a scapegoat such as the NRA. They immediately seek to pass more restrictive laws that contribute to erode away our personal and private liberties. We do not need more restrictive laws.
Eric and Dylan would not have been stopped by metal detectors. No amount of gun laws can stop someone who spends months planning this type of massacre. The real villain lies within our own hearts.”
~ Darrell Scott, Father of Rachel Joy Scott, victim of the Columbine High School shooting in 1999

As Darrel mentions we have pushed all spiritual elements out of our schools and education systems, in fact out of almost every aspect of our society.  Why can’t spirituality without any particular religious flavor be part of our everyday lives?

“People say to me, ‘but if I simply accept reality then I will become passive and nothing will change.  I answer them with this question. Which of these statements makes more sense? "I wish I hadn't lost all that money.’ or ‘what can I do now to create more income?’
Accepting ‘what is’ doesn't mean you settle for the way things are, it just means you give up all the resistance and inner struggle by wishing it were different.”
~ Robert Anthony, Author and Self-help guru


How can we become Peace-Makers?
In his book “Peace is the Way” Deepak Chopra writes about war being a myth which provides an outlet for national vengeance, it satisfies the demands of fear, it brings power to the victor, it provides security to the homeland, and it opens an avenue for getting what you want by force.  He talks about being addicted to war just like to any other bad habit.

The first step to any change is awareness.  We all can practice peace every day by changing our habits and mindsets. Chopra salutes conflict resolution, voting, and finding concrete ethical ways of supporting nonviolence.  Dr. Chopra suggests a seven step process to replace addiction to a way of love.

One practice for each day:

Sunday:        Being For Peace

Monday:        Thinking For Peace

Tuesday:       Feeling For Peace

Wednesday:  Speaking For Peace

Thursday:     Acting For Peace

Friday:          Creating For Peace

Saturday:      Sharing For Peace

I am glad that Dr. Chopra includes the existence of God as necessity for finding a way to peace.  He says that the way of peace isn't based on religion or morality. It doesn't ask us to become saints overnight, or to renounce our feelings of anger or our thirst for revenge.  The way of peace is based on the same thing that ushered in the age of science: a leap in consciousness.

Next week I will explore more ways as to how peace can come about.
 
 

Monday, December 1, 2014

We Thank You, America!


Last week I wrote about America being an idea.  An idea which can also be a vision or a dream.  The American dream was not only the dream of the pilgrims but also the dream of our Heavenly Parent.  I believe that’s the reason that even though the pilgrims faced a lot of suffering and hardship along the way to establish the new colony, they also encountered many miracles.

Just recently I watched the movie: America:Imagine the World without Her.  In this documentary Dinesh D'Souza shows a very different perspective of America from what we are presented in the media.

In America: Imagine a World without Her D'Souza offers a passionate and sharply reasoned defense of America, knocking down every important accusation made by Progressives against our country.

In the book of the same title, you'll learn:
•Why it is a pernicious myth that English colonists "stole" America from the Indians or that American settlers and soldiers "stole" the southwest from Mexico.

•Why the descendants of slaves—and the successive waves of immigrants to the United States—are better off here than in their old countries.

•How America, more than any other country, is based on rewarding the enterprise and hard-work of the common man.

•How traditional American virtues sustain prosperity and freedom, and Progressive arguments about "liberation" and "justice" undercut them.

•How Progressive demagoguery about "inequality" expands the power of government and its grasp on the taxpayer's wallet.

•Why we should fear the Progressive agenda of "reform" which is in fact an agenda of totalitarian control of the state over the individual.

•Why national decline is a choice--a choice that it is still not too late to reverse.

Provocative in its analysis, stunning in its conclusions, Dinesh D'Souza's America will be the most talked about book of the year.
(Review from the America: Imagine the World without Her website.

Apparently there are historical records about the founding of this country which the liberals don’t want us to know.  Since we just celebrated Thanksgiving Holiday, let’s look at some stories which you may not have heard about:

The Truth about Thanksgiving: What They Never Taught You in School
~ Richard Schiffman

"The most creative and industrious people had no incentive to work any harder than anyone else, unless they could utilize the power of personal motivation!"
~ William Bradford, Governor of the Plymouth Plantation from 1623-1656

Or American Historian Gordon S. Wood who writes in The Radicalism of the American Revolution:
“The idea of labor, of hard work, leading to increased productivity was so novel, so radical, in the overall span of Western history that most ordinary people, most of those who labored, could scarcely believe what was happening to them. Labor had been so long thought to be the natural and inevitable consequence of necessity and poverty that most people still associated it with slavery and servitude. Therefore any possibility of oppression, any threat to the colonists' hard earned prosperity, any hint of reducing them to the poverty of other nations, was especially frightening; for it seemed likely to slide them back into the traditional status of servants or slaves, into the older world where labor was merely a painful necessity and not a source of prosperity.”

Dr. Ben Carson writes in a column for the Washington Times newspaper praising the strong beliefs of the Founding Fathers:
Those are the values that allowed a ragtag army during the American Revolution to defeat the most powerful military force on earth. They did not possess a superior fighting force or ingenious strategies, but they did hold strong beliefs, for which they were willing to die, while the British soldiers were just following orders. That same kind of conviction today can lead us to become informed voters and exercise the powers vested in us courageously.

Historically, during great cultural clashes, those with strong convictions and beliefs have overcome those with weak convictions, who have lost their identity. We are now involved in a worldwide conflict with forces that wish to destroy America and our way of life. We can capitulate to the forces of political correctness and surrender everything that made us strong and unique for the sake of not offending anyone, or we can proudly embrace the values and principles that made us great, honor our Constitution and place our trust in God. This is our best safeguard.
~ Dr. Ben Carson, American Author and retired neurosurgeon.  

I wrote about the experiences of the Pilgrims at the Plymouth Plantation in my last blog. It is astounding that none of the new history textbooks mention about the unsuccessful ‘common course’ practices of our first settlers. Once they got over their socialistic attitudes and applied themselves with the ‘can do spirit,’ they became very successful and God could bless them.

Here are some video links about the American Thanksgiving Holiday 

In the book as well as the movie Mr. D’Souza is very concerned about the future of our country.
“First, the American economy is stagnant and shrinking relative to the economies of China. Russia, India and Brazil…Second, America is drowning in debt. While China is the world’s largest creditor nation, America is the world’s largest debtor nation. At $17 trillion, the national debt is now bigger than the total sum of goods and services that America produces in a year…Finally, America is losing its position in the world.”

As one other critique summarizes D’Souza’s very compassioned approach:
Remember, when you have the facts, you argue the facts. When you don't have the facts, you argue the law, and when you don't have the facts or the law on your side, you attack the person. When you hear his opponent’s bad mouthing Dinesh D'Souza personally, you know they do not have an argument to make. This is why you hear politicians trying to turn themselves into victims of personal attacks because it serves to deflect the serious arguments being made against their policies and actions in office. Be alert, my friends. Be alert!
~ Craig Matteson, Saline, MI


Dinesh D'Souza: A World Without America

The Thanksgiving week and the approaching Christmas Holidays are a great opportunity to be grateful for our heritage and reflect on the core values of our Founding Fathers.  Gratitude is a great motivator for a course correction, especially when we can include our Heavenly Parent's input. 

 

 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Thank You, America!

 
America can be seen as idea
An idea such as a thought or suggestion as to a possible course of action.  An idea such as an image with an aim or purpose.  An idea such as a vision of an ideal country.

The Pilgrims coming to America certainly had ideas and hopes for a better life.  They parted Europe in order to find a land where they could freely worship God and pursue a life of freedom. 
Those were the principles America was founded on:

The Founding Fathers declared equal opportunities, not equal outcomes:
1)    The rule of law is a First Principle that mandates that the law governs everyone.
2)    The First Principle of unalienable rights recognizes that everyone is naturally endowed by their Creator with certain rights.
3)    Equality is a First Principle that recognizes that all persons are created equal.
4)    The First Principle of the Social Compact recognizes that governments are instituted by the people and derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.
5)    The First Principle of limited government means that the protection of unalienable rights is the legitimate purpose and limit of government requires the government to be strong enough to fulfill its purpose yet limited to that purpose.
6)    A final First Principle is the right to declare revolution when the other First Principles are being infringed by the government.

“America is more than just a place. America is an idea. It’s the only country founded ON an idea. Our rights come from nature and God, not from government. … We promise equal opportunity, not equal outcomes. And this idea was founded on the principles of freedom, free enterprise, self-determination and government by CONSENT of the governed.”
~ Paul Ryan, U.S. Congressman
 
When the Pilgrims arrived at the New World, they arrived in New England’s winter.  Even the following years 1621/1622 their harvest were scare, mainly because they didn’t apply themselves.  Some worked and others were lazy and stole food from others and suffered hunger. 

The Mayflower Compact which had been signed by all male passengers of the Mayflower which gave them permission to leave England and promised them land along the New World shore.  Due to storms they landed in what is today New England instead of their original destiny of today’s Virginia.  The compact was to give them some form of legal binding of self-governing.  Unfortunately, the compact got lost, and it was not until William Bradford declared the end of socialism in 1623 and help draft a legal code which distributed land to each family. 

Until then the Pilgrims had practiced some form of “common course,” which was a sort of primitive agrarian communism. Bradford decided to distribute land among all the settlers, not just members of the company and didn’t discriminate along religious line.  He encouraged free market trade; each family worked hard and worked the land with new pride and gratitude.  The following year they had a plentiful harvest and gathered for a feast of thanksgiving.  William Bradford was the governor of the Plymouth Plantation for over 30 years and wrote about their lifestyle in “The History of the Plymouth Plantation.”

God’s Hope for America
Coming from another country, I didn’t know much about American History. In the 1970’s Rev. Moon gave a series of public speeches entitled: God’s Hope for America, and I learned about the heart-warming stories of the American Pilgrims.

Rev. Moon spoke about the longing of the Pilgrims and their willingness to endure hardship and suffering to bring their dreams to a new reality.  They had a strong faith that God was on their side.  Here is an excerpt from the speech given in October 21, 1973 in Washington, DC:
 
A winter of heartbreak

During the first winter in America, the population of the hardy Mayflower survivors was cut in half. Each day that winter brought a heartbreaking separation from loved ones. One by one these courageous pioneers died. Yet their life from morning to night, from dusk to dawn, was centered upon the will of God. God was their only comfort, their only hope and their only security. God was the principal partner for them. Here was an example of such a rare and pure group of God's people. They demonstrated untiring faith, and God gave them power and courage. They never lost their trust in God and their vision of the future. Their purpose in coming to America was to build a nation where God could dwell, where they could really share fellowship with each other and rejoice in fellowship with God. This was all in God's providence, because He needed a nation to serve as His champion for the ultimate and permanent salvation of the world. 
So another miracle came to the Pilgrims. When they were just barely surviving and their population had been halved, the Indians could easily have wiped them out with one stroke. But again, God was a shield for them. The first group of Indians the Mayflower survivors encountered were not hostile. The Indians welcomed the settlers. If the Pilgrims had been destroyed at that time, there would probably have been no America for God. God intervened to save His people here in America. This is my belief. God wanted them to settle, and He gave the Pilgrims a chance. 
As the population of the settlement grew, they had to push the Indians away to enlarge their own colony. Of course, this land did not belong to the new American people originally. The Indians were the inhabitants of the land, and the Pilgrim settlers must have been invaders in the eyes of the Indians. Why then did God give these settlers their great chance? Here is my interpretation. God sided with the American settlers because it was in His plan. Furthermore, these American settlers met God's requirements and truly demonstrated an unwavering faith in God. God could not help but give them His promise and fulfill that promise. 
America's existence was according to God's providence. God needed to build one powerful Christian nation on earth for His future work. After all, America belonged to God first, and only after that to the Indians. This is the only interpretation that can justify the position of the Pilgrim settlers. 
This continent of America was hidden away for a special purpose and was not discovered until the appropriate hour. The people of God came at the appointed hour. They came to mold the new way of life. Their principal partner was God. At home, in caring for their children, in farming or cooking or building, they let God share their work. He was the only security they had. A farmer might talk to his son working out in the field with him. "Let's plow this field in the name of God." Their everyday life was lived in the name of God. 
After the first spring visited them, they cleared the fields, planted, cultivated, and harvested the crop. And they attributed all their precious harvest to the grace of God. The beautiful tradition of Thanksgiving thus originated. Following the next severe winter, the first thing they built was a church. At night, at dawn, in the morning and at noontime, they prayed to God. I am sure they prayed, "God, we want to build a place for You which must be better than the Old World. We want to build a place where You can dwell and be master." 
And they also had a vision of the future that this Christian nation would do more good for the rest of the world than any other country upon the face of the earth. I am sure that after their church they built a school. They wanted outstanding schools for their children, better than any schools existing in the Old World. And their homes came last. After they built these homes, they dedicated them to God. This is the history of your Pilgrim Fathers, I know. I can visualize early America as a beautiful America, because God was dwelling everywhere. In the school, in the church, in the kitchen, in the street — in any assembly or market place, God was dwelling.


The American Dream
The Pilgrims laid the foundation for the American Dream which is a national ethos of the United States, a set of ideals in which freedom includes the opportunity for prosperity and success, and an upward social mobility achieved through hard work.

“That sense of can do spirit, of American Exceptionalism has a long history going back to the pilgrims who carved out a place to call home and the rag tagged army that defeated the most powerful empire in the world.”
What is America – ReadState

I like to finish this tribute to the Thanksgiving Holiday with a short video by musician and singer/song writer Bono at Georgetown University who as an Irish born sees America as an Ideal truth which is self-evident in all of us: 



Next week I will write about the movie America: Imagine a World without Her


Monday, November 17, 2014

How to Communicate with God


Today, more than ever before, we observe that some people truly desire to communicate with God.  This trends exist disregarding of certain religious affiliations.  In fact, it is often those who don’t have a church preference, who are the true seekers.

Prayer is the ongoing dialogue with God.  It is a way to tell God everything and surrender our lives to Him.  The most effective way to talk to God is by imagining that He is our parent, our Dad and Mom who want to know about us.  When we report to God in this way, we can ask for help and guidance and then just listen.  Honoring God in this way, listening, and waiting for solutions to unfold.  Since God is mostly interested in our spiritual growth and personal development, answers may not always come or come in ways we don’t expect them. 

In the teachings of the Divine Principle this occurrence is explained in the chapter on Eschatology  or specifically the section on: THE PHENOMENON OF THE RESTORATION OF THE FIRST BLESSING

In the beginning, God gave man three blessings:

“Be fruitful, multiply and have dominion over the earth.”

Since man was created as a spiritual being with both physical and spiritual senses we were also giving the potential to communicate with God freely.  Being fruitful means to be mature in both mind and body.  Through the unity of mind/body we would be aligned with our creator and could freely communicate with Him as we are talking to our spouses or friends. 

Throughout the ages, God has spoken to central figures, prophets, and saints.  None-the-less, it was the creators desire to talk to each one of us directly.  It is therefore a natural occurrence for more and more people to seek direct contact with the Divine.

The Oriental philosophies and religions have attracted a lot of attention from the Western world.  With breath work, chanting, martial arts, meditation, yoga, and other disciplines spiritual practices are endless.

Let’s look at some of the ways to communicate with the Heavenly Parent through our five spiritual senses:

* Breathing -- The first thing we do after being born into this physical world is to breathe.  At that very moment the spirit of God enters the little human and from then has an eternal spirit.  Children’s breathing is effortless and takes the breath deep into the diaphragm.


“God took the dust of the earth and formed the body or man, and breathed into the nostrils of man the Breath of Life, and man became a living soul.”
~ Genesis 2:7 

Almost all the ancient languages use the same word for air, wind or breath as they do for life, vital energy, or spirit; or the animating principle of life. This principle, this spirit of life, is called chi, ki, prana, or energy.

”If you can do something with breath, you will attain the source of life. If you can do something with breath, you can transcend time and space. If you can do something with breath, you will be in the world and also beyond it.”
~ Rajneesh/Osho, Book of Secrets

When we grow older breathing often gets hindered by negative emotions and experiences.  We hold our breath in excitement, fear or fight and flight causing stress; we starve our cells of oxygen.  Practicing certain breathing techniques can be very beneficial to our health.  Additionally, centered breathing can create an internal awareness and peace.  It can help us to enter into the realm of heart which is our true essence and can lead to a rebirth experience.

* Hearing – Listening is a skill which we all have to practice.  With so much information and stimulation we often filter out stuff we don’t want to hear.  One of the best ways to keep healthy relationships is to learn to listen.

In meditation and prayer we want to be silent at times in order “to hear the small voice of God.”  Our world is very noisy, and even the talk in our head is constantly telling us what we can’t, didn’t, and shouldn’t do.  It seems that the biggest bullies are not external but are the incessant shatter in our own mind. 

Listening to our inner silence takes practice.  Eckhart Tolle, in his book “A New Earth” speaks about “Listening for Silence.”  It will stop our thinking and help us to connect with our true essence.

We also want to hear beautiful sounds in creation as well as delightful and uplifting music.  Our ears are meant to explore the whole spectrum of sounds and vibrate with the frequencies of nature.

* Seeing – In visualizing our spiritual self we become empowered by faith and the invisible will become substantial.  In this way we co-create our own existence.  When we “gaze upon God” and take it upon ourselves to incorporate the spiritual virtues (fruits of the spirit), our everyday life can become an extra-ordinary life.  Faith is believing in that core essence which God has manifested in us as our original potential and can become manifested in everyday events.

“The power to see in Spirit is peculiar to faith. In its outer expression, this power is sight; interiorly it is that which perceives the reality of the substance of Spirit. Mental seeing is knowing; we mentally discern. Have faith in what you do.”
~ Charles Fillmore

* Smelling -- By becoming aware of our sense of smell we can remember certain experiences.  I can still smell the ocean air from the day we spent at the beach in Florida or the scent of honey suckle from the bushes in our backyard when they bloom in the spring.  The key is to connect those kind of experiences with God.  God wants to smell the flowers through us; or the aroma of fresh brewed coffee to awaken all of our senses in the morning.  With the greater awareness of consciousness every small action can be a beautiful experience.

* Tasting – Some people say a prayer before eating.  That is a great practice to invite God to enjoy the food and drink with us.  Since God doesn’t have a physical body, he wants to experience tasting bread through us.  I can imagine the taste of lemon in my mouth feeling the bitter, tangy and sour flavor on my tongue. Biting in the delicious strawberry, one can chew it slowly and savor every bite. It creates a consciousness within us to make God part of all of our experiences.  Then drinking a glass of water can be a holy experience, especially if we are grateful for it.  Once we take all of our actions out of the habitual trance every tasks becomes purposeful and can create joy and excitement.  All of the flavors have been created by God for our enjoyment. 

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”
~ Jesus Christ

* Touching – This sense is probably the most intimate to come in contact with God.  At times we feel His embrace, His touch through another human being and most often when we are struggling or suffering. Being open to God’s touch in those moments is the most rewarding.  In times of sorrow we need to feel close to God.  It is unfortunate that most of us don’t call on God except for those moments.  And then we are disappointed because we cannot feel God.  Because our Heavenly Parent wants to be close to us at all times, take our hand in good times and in bad times.  It means to make ourselves vulnerable and surrender our ego at times when things go well or when we feel self-assured. 

“We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature - trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence... We need silence to be able to touch souls.”
~ Mother Teresa

By practicing to stay in the present moment, we have access to the power of life itself and can get in touch with God.  When we step out of the present moment, thinking of yesterday’s experiences or projecting our mind into the future, we turn away from God.  Then God is not a reality anymore but becomes a concept of the mind.  In that state of mind it is hard to believe in God. 

We all know we have greater potential than we have realized so far.  Using our spiritual senses as well as our physical senses will open up a whole new world for us.  Some people have an encounter of a near-death-experience or some other drastic spiritual awakening.  Others just have a 6th sense happening, synchronistic event or use their intuition.  Beyond those kinds of incidents we all have the capacity to access our spiritual senses.  All we need to do is become aware and practice to be in the NOW at all times.  Paying attention to the small things, and discovering that we are not separate from God but He is within us.

What about those people who say that God does not exist?  Let them watch the recent movie “The Principle”  in which science now is telling us they can prove God’s existence.

Gratitude is best practice to feel God and having a forgiving heart is an open door.  Based on humility God will be with us even if we don’t pray.  

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

I Voted!

I didn’t know that my voting would be such an adventure this time.  On the way to the voting place, my son called us: Mom, did you know that they changed the location of the polling station? 
I hadn’t heard or read about (even though a few days before I looked up the candidates at the official website.) 

I was grateful that we didn’t have go to the wrong place.  When I presented my ID, the man looked at me and said: You cannot vote here.  I told him, that I was a citizen, and I wanted to vote (I even showed him my name on the list).  He sent me to another group of volunteers who gladly explained to me that the reason I couldn’t vote on the electronic ballot machines was that my driver’s license had expired.  
So, what was I to do? 

They gave me an application for manual voting and send me with an envelope and the paper ballot to another table behind a screen. 
Then, I was to stick the envelope in the temporary ballot box which was actually a yellow sack which was locked.

In the meantime, I was embarrassed that my driver’s license had expired two weeks before on my birthday.  When I went straight from voting to the DMV I found a roomful of people all standing in line.  I didn’t want to wait for hours to get my license renewed which I did the next morning within 15 minutes, including taking the vision test as well as a picture.  This time around my license is only good for another four years.

What is the lesson of the day?  Before you vote: check your ID for validity.

Monday, October 27, 2014

I believe in the the American People


In the last few months I have seriously thought about my decision from 15 years ago on becoming an American citizen.  The judge who swore us in gave such a moving appeal to all the new nationals.  In all the years since I have always been proud to be an American.  Did I make a mistake by becoming a citizen of the United States?  I don’t like the way our country is run right now, with all the wars against this, that and the other.  All the threads and fears which are emanating from our government; what happened to the land of the free, the home of the brave? 

What does it mean to be an American citizen?
In the classes I had to take to qualify for citizenship I learned about the Constitution.  It is one of the requirements to show that you are attached to the principles of the Constitution  of the United States. 

It was the founding fathers ideas and especially the conviction of Thomas Jeffersonthe writer of the Declaration of Independence, to keep religion and state affairs separated.  In the past that has worked really well, that legal residents could follow their own religious beliefs without infringing on their neighbors. 

The constitution also gave us the rights to voice our opinions without being harassed by anyone including authorities. It seems contradictory that new citizens have to swear to uphold the constitution when our own government is not following the same rules.


"A Time for Choosing" by Ronald Reagan 60 years ago 10-27-64

We have to know our history
When I was in school, I never liked history.  Maybe it was the way it was presented, too dry and lifeless.  Someone once said we need to know our history to know our future.  History runs in cycles, and when we can see those repetitions it should surely open our eyes.  But do we really learn from history?

History never made much sense to me until I studied the History of the Providence of Restoration (HPR) which is taught by the late Reverend Sun Myung Moon in the Divine Principle.  The HPR starts with biblical accounts of Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and their families, and goes through three parallel periods of repeating similar events and brings us to today, the time of the returning Messiah.
 

 
We have to know who we are
“Know Thyself” is an age-old maxim.  When we know who we are we know what to do.  Our god-centered conscience will be our guide.

Too many people today have been lulled into an hypnotic trance giving them free money, free cell phones, free health insurance, etc. for doing nothing.  Uncle Sam’s promises come with a high price: giving up self-reliance, character, and traditional family values.  Excellence has been replaced by mediocrity, dreams have been shattered by false promises.  

I like how Victor Frankl, a holocaust survivor, gave an interesting insight in 1972 about believing in people.  He suggested to target people’s ideal potential to live a more meaningful life.  Aren’t we all looking for more meaning in our life?  If Victor Frankl, who describes his experiences of his life in a concentration camp in his book “Man’s Search for Meaning,”  can believe in the goodness and righteousness of people, we can also find meaning in believing in the higher potential of human beings. 

“The Only Thing Necessary for the Triumph of Evil is that Good Men Do Nothing.”
~ Edmund Burke (1729-1797) Irish Statesman and Philosopher
 
As a citizen I will vote next Tuesday, November 4, 2014.  It is my right and my privilege to cast my vote.  I believe that the system is not going to betray my vote through mechanical failure or will-full manipulation, and if there was found such, I trust that it will be rectified by the people who have built this nation as a free country where every vote is counted in its rightful way.  Democracy means that we have choices protected by the law. 

I want to encourage all good citizens of this great country to go vote this coming November 4th.  


 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Oh, That was Awesome!


On a beautiful fall day, our family went to Cocoa Beach in Florida.  It was about 85 degrees and a perfect occasion to enjoy the calm and consistent waves at the beach.  The water was shallow enough to walk out past the breakers, and many people enjoyed their attempts at surfing the waves.

I love swimming and marched right into the surf.  While I was jumping over and into the waves I thought about how waves develop.

Waves on the beach area are caused by open water waves coming in contact with the bottom as they approach the shore. This causes the waves to rise up until they become a breaker, when the top of the wave falls over itself. The bottom of the wave is dragged by the bottom and also by the undertow of water returning from the beach to open water, while the top of the water keeps moving forward, causing the breaker to curl over itself.
~ Source: The beach

Some waves were higher than others but all of them were a powerful force, and I could feel the back wash under my feet which sometimes was so strong that I lost my balance.  One swell was very high, and I could not jump over it; it completely took me off my feet, and I got swirled under.  I developed great respect for the force of the water and was in awe of the beauty as well as the energy which I received from my bathing experience.



After my invigorating experience I thought some more about how awesome the ocean is with its saltwater’s healing and cleansing effects.  Even getting my hair wet turned out beneficial because of all the minerals in the water; it increased the volume of my hair.  My nostrils felt cleaner, too; they got rinsed with the salt water.  Overall, swimming in the waves gave me a great workout; and I had a few hours visiting a ‘natural spa.’  Walking on the sand was a good massage to my feet.

Of all the experiences in Florida I appreciate going to the beach the most.  It was nice swimming at the resort and going to SeaWorld, but nothing beats swimming in the ocean.